Running bases with Tom Ricketts

January 14, 2017 01:00 PM

What are you reading now?
I just finished “River of Doubt” and “Hero of the Empire” both by Candice Millard. Now I am reading “The Churchill Factor” by Boris Johnson and “The Real Madrid Way” by Steven Mandis.

Your essential book on business?
I generally don’t put too much stock in business books but I did buy “Blue Ocean Strategy” for all of the managers at Incapital a few years back.

What is the first website or app that you check every day?
MLB At Bat app.

What is the last website or app that you check every day?
MLB At Bat or sometimes MiLB First Pitch if our minor leaguers are playing.

What is the best investment that you have ever made?
An engagement ring.

Where do you see the most opportunity in the markets for the year ahead?
We will certainly see higher rates and more volatility. It will be a great opportunity for investors sitting in cash to lock in higher yields, particularly with callable bonds. The mortgage markets could be very interesting with the change of leadership in Washington. 

Your favorite sports show?
MLB Tonight on MLB Channel and Intentional Talk is always good for a good laugh.

What is your favorite Cubs moment from your youth?
First game at Wrigley when I was in high school, no one ever forgets that.

Excluding the Series, what is your favorite Cub moment since owning the club?
Our first Opening Day was pretty special but clinching the Wild Card last year — my first champagne experience in baseball — is my favorite.

Rate the most important attributes in determining baseball success from: Team attitude, skill, luck and culture?
This is hard because it varies by player and year. That said, the most important part of our success is skill because without good players not much else matters. So I would have 50% skill and equal parts of the other factors.

Theo Epstein’s record speaks for itself, but what personal quality of his contributes most to his achievements?
Theo is a great leader. People in our baseball organization work hard as a team and hold themselves accountable largely because they are inspired to work for Theo.

You raised ticket prices for next year by 20%. What was the benchmark used to set the new prices?
There is a lot of data to use including primary/secondary market transactions over time and how other teams set prices. So, we literally look at millions of data points when reviewing ticket pricing.

The MLB just signed a new collective bargaining agreement? Are there any other urgencies that the sport needs to address?
It is good to have a new CBA. Overall, the sport is in very good shape but with the growing number of walks, strikeouts, and pitching changes we may look at some ideas to speed up the game.

After Wrigley, your favorite ball park?
I like AT&T Park in San Francisco. Great location, good food, and I always have a lot of friends with me there.

What sport do you watch most after baseball?
Football. I try to catch a little college football and some of the Bears’ game every weekend.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo gave you the ball from the last out of game 7…what do you plan to do with it?
That ball will be in the Cubs archives and, at some point soon, on display for years to come.

Favorite musical artists, living and dead?
Pearl Jam, great musicians, and Eddie Vedder is a huge Cubs fan. Jack White, Bob Mould and Frank Turner would be a few others. With respect to artists who have passed, I think of Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain, both were very influential and died too young.

What is your favorite Chicago steakhouse?
Too close to call in the city, up near my house we will hit Pete Millers (Evanston) or EJ’s Place (Skokie).

Who is your business hero?
My father. He was the son of a contractor/carpenter from a small town in Nebraska who went on to help lead a revolution in stock trading.

Who was your favorite Cub player when you were growing up?
Bill Buckner when I was a kid. In fact, I traded for a Bill Buckner card one year and my neighbor friend later changed his mind. Of course, I called no “tradebacks” so I was under no obligation to do anything, so he started ringing our doorbell and prank calling our house to get me to undo the trade. My mom made me trade back, but my friend gave it back to me as a wedding present.

Your prediction for the Cubs season next year?
Our division is looking very tough in 2017, but it seems like whenever the Cubs are in the World Series, they do it twice.

Jeff Joseph

About the Author

Jeff Joseph is the CEO of The Alpha Pages, the parent company of Modern Trader magazine.
E-mail him at or find him on Twitter @alphapagesceo and @venturepopulist.